Dane Coles set for long-awaited All Blacks return

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Dane Coles will make his long-awaited New Zealand return on Saturday when the All Blacks host Australia in the second round of the Rugby Championship.

The experienced hooker has not featured for the world champions since November 2016 amid concussion problems that saw him sidelined for four months of the Hurricanes' Super Rugby season.

Coles missed the British and Irish Lions tour and the last week's clash with the Wallabies in Sydney, although he did travel with the squad.

He was overlooked due to another knock to the head in a warm-up match, but has now fully recovered and will take his place in the pack, winning his 50th cap in the process.

The 30-year-old is the only change to Steve Hansen's XV from the comprehensive 54-34 victory at ANZ Stadium last weekend, Coles replacing Codie Taylor in the front row.

Taylor drops to the bench, where he is joined by Kane Hughes and Scott Barrett as Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett and Luke Romano drop out of the matchday squad.

 

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock, Liam Squire, Sam Kane, Kieran Read

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Kane Hames, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown